Regardless, I favor less rules and more freedom for kids for it's own sake. If there are social and/or developmental benefits, that would be icing on the cake.
Where I grew up (near Charlottesville, VA), I had acres of wilderness in my backyard and the surrounding area to explore with my friends. We would build make play forts, climb (real) trees, make bridges over creeks and rivers etc. In the winter we'd go sledding, unsupervised, on real hills that we discovered ourselves .. age ranges from 7 to 10.
Nearby there were a couple old plantation houses (ruins) near the scene of various battles from the revolutionary to the civil war. One even had cannonballs embedded in the walls. To be clear, these were just there, not maintained as museums etc. They were a rumor passed from older kids to younger ones, each mini-generation re-discovering them and the wonders contained.
I bet if our parents knew exactly what we were doing they would have been horrified, that was part of the fun. We did these things without their permission.
When I was about 13, we moved to upper middle class suburban California. Nice, safe, maintained parks. Pretend islands with pretend castles, slides and playground equipment with signs displaying instructions for "proper use." Frankly, boring, synthetic and alarmingly sad.
I got kicked out for redboxing the school payphone and for reciting the lyrics to Nazi school and saluting my detention room minders, which is some old 80s song on the KBD comps http://youtu.be/QJ5kuA_66u8
I was sent by my country's ministry of education to a school of 'criminal youth' with 1200 students and no rules that was 10-12 grade. Not one fight. Many of the kids were serious gangsters involved in operating drug lines or fresh out of juvie hall. With no rules to rebel against everybody hung out including geeky neckbeards with Christian Audiger wearing Gs. They told us it was up to us to pass or fail, they weren't responsible and we could do anything we wanted including not showing up. Meanwhile my friends would lament of the stifling rules and regulations back in my old school that saw endemic violence and brutality. The more you try to control people the worse they become it seems.
My first week at the new school I acted like I was still in an institution by booting my books down the halls, and generally being a complete goof. Nobody paid attention to me and my antics didn't move me up the social ladder. There's no reason to rebel against a place without any rules that tells you your own actions will decide if you sink or swim. No nannies phoning home to your parents saying you didn't show up, no detention, no late slips, no punishment for disrupting a class either. We would talk to each other in the middle of a lecture and the teacher didn't go on a massive power trip trying to punish and humiliate us in front of all the other students. We were just told that if we didn't listen or respect the teachers we'd fail in life, so we listened.
Compare that to my last school when in grade 8 I was dragged into a Socials 12 class because the instructor thought I made a racist comment in the hallways when it was some other older kids who did while passing by. He basically encouraged the other Grade 12 students to 'teach me a lesson' through violence and would harass me on a regular basis because of this. I reacted like any other kid, become a total nightmare student and get kicked out.
A school with absolutely no rules? So you could cheat on tests openly? you could walk through the campus naked? you could sell or do drugs in class? You could vandalize the campus? Threaten to kill the teacher? You could break into the school's office or computer system and change your grades? Bribe the graders? ETC?
A bunch of 16-18 year old kids with no such requirement following all the rules once they aren't enforced? Nice story.
I call BS.
Source: Documented history of innate human nature and the 100% failures of all utopian ideas like the one you fabricated...
I would downvote you if I could. Your 6 day old account probably will be abandoned in a week anyway.
Edit: though it may have been an accidental misclick, I would appreciate an explanation from the user who downvoted my comment if it was not an accident. I consider googles99's comment to be unnecessarily harsh to a new HN user, and want to know why discouraging such incivility is worthy of a downvote, if indeed it was not accidental.
No rules but the laws of Canada? Well that is very close to the same thing as most schools then right? The only difference was a few rules such as you could be late to class or truant and you could leave campus whenever you wanted to. Funny that one of the laws of Canada prohibits redboxing - one of the very same "rules" that you were kicked out of school to begin with...
So you are telling me that 3 rule changes, only having one test in all of school, people telling everyone that they should study or they will fail at life (something I probably have heard from every teacher I have ever had) and a motto of "we will never give up on you" changed things that much?
What was the name of this miraculous institution???
One could change just one rule in any school in the world and it would make the kind of improvement that you describe. Optional attendance. Of course 1/3 of the school won't show up, but that is the "bad kids" anyway.
On the contrary, the problem is that schools are insufficiently authoritarian. Low-level harassment by students goes unpunished, while outright retaliation (a well-deserved punch in the face) is punished.
A lot of schools are in this weird uncanny valley between freedom and strict discipline. Both would create order, but choosing one in between will have the advantages of neither.
You're also failing to consider that being under strict authority might itself make people behave worse. You see this in every totalitarian regime, from the Nazis to the Communists and to the Taliban.
No shocker that this behavior trickles down as a model to follow.
The article is written like this is a silver bullet with hand waving pseudoscience justification which implies it is total bull.
What I saw in this video was like looking back 30 years and it made me happy. You're underestimating our kids to think we can't let them loose for a good game of bullrush and they are more aware that they are being watched than actually just playing the rules of the game. Also remember that Rugby is New Zealand's national sport and these kids grow up watching it and knowing the rules. I'd bet some of those kids end up in the All Blacks.
Thing one thing I would say is that it was a different time and I think we have became more fearful of the potential dangers out there. We are presented with extreme events and begin to think that this is the way of the world. Parents (rightfully) become fearful for their children. But, for a lot of us, we are lucky and live in a very safe environments, and in such environments children should be aloud to explore, imagine, and enjoy their childhoods.
Bullying grew more and more, i suspect because we were doing less at playtime and spending more time hassling each other.
I got into far too many fights towards the end of primary school than my first couple of years.
That being said, I also think rugby is a silly game.
Yes, watching the video reminded me that no-one taught me how to tackle when I was playing Rugby as a skinny 11 year old. Good to see the kids at the school have someone to help them avoid those common injuries and still get some decent play in.
> Children develop the frontal lobe of their brain when taking risks, meaning they work out consequences. "You can't teach them that. They have to learn risk on their own terms. It doesn't develop by watching TV, they have to get out there."
Weak argument for the no-rules position. Children get injuries all the time, whether you have rules or not :].
The fact that this particular school has no reports of injuries seems suspicious to me. And a (self reported) higher level of concentration in the classroom can't be related to the playground absence of rules (well, the article doesn't provide any explanations for that). Did they ditch the coke vending machines as well ? I could believe that.
Disclaimer: I was raised in Europe and although there were no rules per se we weren't allowed to leave the school premises. The article doesn't give enough details to compare both situations.
>There weren't any rules when I was in primary school either and there definitely were bullies and injuries on the playground.
I'm not sure that the article is saying that the removal of rules has lead to zero bullies/injuries--just a reduction.
>Weak argument for the no-rules position. Children get injuries all the time, whether you have rules or not :].
This is an even weaker argument for rules. If children are going to get injuries whether you have rules or not, than why are you wasting time rule-making when nobody wants to follow the rules and nobody wants to enforce the rules? Furthermore, I'd say that the thesis of "less rules means more activity, means less time spent harassing and troublemaking," is very plausible.
It's like getting a husky and crating him up all day, then wondering why he's irritable and destructive.
> The article doesn't give a lot of information, but neither does your anecdotes.
I fully agree with you, I just wanted to point out that one school "without rules" is not enough to draw any conclusion regarding bullying as the article seems to imply. (I read "lose bullies" as "no bullies", my mistake).
> This is an even weaker argument for rules.
I don't really have an argument for or against rules. I don't even know what's in the playground rulebook.
We played with sticks and stones, football, skate, bmx biking, hiking all the time in Spain.
You got hurt all the time too, but mostly scratches, you understood risk and knew the limits.
There were also bullies, but the best thing you can do against bullies is fight them back. There are some places with rules like "no fighting" that ironically makes bullies rule.
At my kids' school, they are blowing whistles at kids for running. RUNNING! It's stupid. So someone gets bumped. Someone skins their knee. For God's sake, let the kids RUN.
Then on the playground. If there were sticks, or tackling, or climbing on anything except the rubber-made play sets, they'd be sent to the office and be held in on the next recess. Ridiculous.
Watching the video with this article made me feel SO HAPPY for these kids. Playing games we used to play as kids. Less fear of being "safe" and a little more aggressive and exhilarating play.
I sort-of "get" the bullying part too. Sort-of. I think it comes down to "getting out the aggression". And when aggressive kids are cornered, they may lash out. Though I'm no expert at all. But I think there's a bit of sense to this.
Especially with the usual idiotic companions of zero-tolerance and "it takes 2 for a fight".
That sounds crazy to me. Doesn't fighting back just escalate things? And do we really want the next generation to grow up thinking that fighting is OK? Will they apply that same pattern when they're adults?
The current state of "assault" law is appalling, especially in the U.S. We need to get more than a bit back to what we actually are.
It works when you're an adult as well, though if they're your boss they might fire you.
Bullies do know very well how to react to someone standing up to them. All my bullies did. It was worthless. I was always unable to do or say the right things to stop them.
This always seemed like a useless platitude to me that doesn’t work one bit outside of very specific circumstances.
Particularly when the alternative is to get pushed around until an authority figure happens to see and intercede on your behalf.
I think it's important to carry that lesson into adulthood, especially as we learn that not all fights are physical.
Fighting is not just violence. It is self confidence, standing up for oneself or for what is right.
It's common for members of certain groups, particularly those of a quixotic utopian bent, to see a bunched fist as something that's awful and terrifying in its own right. This is not true; like any weapon, its moral valence is ineluctably situational and determined by the use to which it's put. A bully uses it to inflict terror on those who can't or won't fight back. We agree that this use carries a negative moral valence, but you fail to think it through properly; the assumption that more violence is always worse than less violence blinds you to the fact that not all violence is morally equivalent -- that the violence which stops a bully is not the same as the violence which satisfies a bully -- because you find it so unpleasant to contemplate any violence.
This is a regrettably common form of moral cowardice, but it is no less base or shameful for all that. Perhaps you think I judge too harshly; in entire fairness, I'd think the same, had not the schools of my youth been administered by people who had precisely the same attitude toward violence in general; their idea was that the problem of bullying could be entirely solved by sufficient attention from authorized adults, which might possibly be workable if, say, there were a roughly 1:1 staff-to-student ratio, and constant supervision in places like bathrooms. Since there isn't and never will be, the whole idea is plainly and fundamentally flawed, but that doesn't seem enough to stop some people from trying to put it into practice nonetheless.
I've seen the policies which result from such foolishness, and experienced their consequences firsthand; indeed, they made my youth a great deal more unpleasant than it really had to be, and it's because of that experience that I have such short shrift to give these opinions when I encounter them in adulthood.
You also make the mistake of saying that bullying is a problem of childhood. Plenty of adults bully and are bullied.
It's easy to say "stand up for yourself", especially if you have wrong ideas about bullies, but just saying it is not particularly helpful for many people being bullied.
It is trite and simplistic. It is also harmful for some people being bullied.
All it does is give more power to bullies. They can be jerks out of sight as much as they want, knowing their targets will never do anything to protect themselves. When it happened to me, I was always more overcome with fear that they would kick me out of school and my life would be over than I was scared of the bully, so I never retaliated. Of course, you can't tell the teacher or your parents either. Not only does that make you look like a "wimp," but it's somehow against the code of kids to get an adult involved; you would feel ashamed if you tattled. So instead, you just put up with it, and the school basically enables the bully to torment as much as they want, as long as they aren't dumb enough to get caught. I didn't have too many problems with bullying growing up, but there were other kids that were basically doomed to years of torment because of this, and were seriously screwed up and jaded because of it. Even worse, even most of the regular kids would avoid the bullied kid and talk about them behind their back, partially for fear of retribution from the bully, and partially because kids in general are cruel and enjoy having power over others almost as much as the bullies themselves, so being the target of a bully meant "you endure cruelty and physical violence on a daily basis, you have no friends, you cannot escape, you aren't allowed to defend yourself, and the adults aren't on your side."
Jumping forward a few years to being a teenager, a guy I didn't like was being a jerk outside of school, and something inside of me was just so tired of always backing down that I ended up hitting him. We traded blows for a minute or so (we were more thrashing like idiots than doing anything "cool" and actually dangerous you'd see in a movie) before it got broken up. We were barely hurt, no busted lips or black eyes, and neither of our parents ever found out. Afterwards, I immediately had a lot more respect amongst my friends, and I somehow ended up becoming friends with the guy I fought. Guys are funny like that.
Random violence and actually hurting people is obviously not ok, but fighting back against bullies prevents them from getting overconfident and lets the bullied keep their dignity. I'm convinced that a more understanding administrative policy and less adult supervision would have allowed most of these problems to sort themselves out pretty quickly, evening out the power distribution in the classroom and making life significantly better for the worst victims of bullying. It probably wouldn't completely solve the problem, for example in the obvious scenario where a group of older kids screw with younger kids outside of school, but at least it solves the horrendous problem we have today where, as I described above, almost an entire class is pitted against a kid.
> do we really want the next generation to grow up thinking that fighting is OK? Will they apply that same pattern when they're adults?
As I understand it, the past few generations are the weird ones, and kids have pretty much always been allowed to get away with harmless fights. Ask your parents how often many fistfights they've had since graduating high school.
Do we really, really just want to accept those risks? I don't think that's easy to answer...
2. Why not ban skiing (etc) because lots of people get paralyzed or die doing it?
3. Why not just ban everything even slightly fun, because fun things usually entail some risk?
do ski resorts let schoolchildren onto the slopes without any kind of parental consent? I believe children aren't considered in the same way we do adults for a reason.
It isn't really that rare. Happens. I've seen real life stories on tv before. Kids who don't understand strangulation playing around. plus accidents with clothes.
>Remove all drawstrings from your child's clothes and make he/she is not wearing any necklaces or scarves while playing; these items could get caught on equipment and strangle a child.
1- Humans think they are good at risk assessment
2- Humans are very bad at risk assessment
In particular, humans suck at dealing with very big or very small numbers.
I know this sounds very harsh but it's not like there is another way to teach this to children. They need to figure it out on their own.
All parents wish they could wrap their children in cotton but the reality is they can't do that forever it's best children lern about risk early.
FTFY. But, then again, I'm a helpless cynic.
1. Perhaps the effect of loosening the rules lasts only a few years. After that the playground gets boring again and the bullies resume their behavior.
2. There might be other factors too, such as the environment of the kids when they are away from school.
Not to say that letting the kids get their hands dirty is a bad idea.
I'm surprised this crowd isn't more data-driven in its assessment. Surely studies of child safety trends exist, and could be correlated to levels of regulation?
The closest thing a quick Google turned up is a study of mandatory cycle helmet legislation and its effect on injury rates. Those rates declined 45% after the introduction of helmet laws. Perhaps not a perfect analogy, but chalk one up for regulation.
But I will say that New Zealand has a perceived problem currently as a somewhat 'nanny state'. Definitely a million kinds of by-laws but we try to resolve our differences with fairness in mind. Generally I describe New Zealand as a 'fair' country, as in, let's figure out what's fair for all involved.
>Letting children test themselves on a scooter during playtime could make them more aware of the dangers when getting behind the wheel of a car in high school, he said.
Back in the days before all this modern child cocooning began, kids were free to roam and do pretty much whatever they wanted. But car drivers of the time routinely drove around without safety belts in what were essentially death traps. After safety belts and very basic safety equipment were introduced, it still took decades for people who grew up with the freer childhoods to really cotton on to them.
I don't remember the statistic off the top of my head, but Ralph Nader brought to light one particularly brutal group of years where a large number of passengers were decapitated on the glove box door during accidents that were occurring at speeds under 35 mph.
Imagine a child dying from hanging in the "lynching game". When teachers are asked if they knew about they said yes, but there are no rules.
Even if it underestimates the effect of bullying (which I'm skeptical about), it certainly puts the school at much more risk for easy lawsuits.
But that's the whole point: when you actually do the experiment, all these horrible things that you imagine might happen don't actually happen.
No, not "no problems whatsoever" just "fewer problems than there are now." Which is in fact the case.
The problem is that people looked at the problems that existed before the rules were in place and applied an argument of the form: There is a problem. Something must be done about this problem. This is something. Therefore we must do this.
I hope I don't have to explain the flaw in this reasoning.
Nobody wants to see a kid hurt, but rules only get teeth when money is on the line.
"We watch the kids play, then we talk and they decide on the rules. They respect the rules better then".
Adult supervision at schools is pretty common, even in the deep South Pacific.
Sorry, I couldn't stop myself. From a standpoint of a person who was young not that long ago it's pretty much obvious. Children want, children do.
Bullies usually have emotional problems or brain chemistry issues. A high percentage of bullies have fathers that are abusive to their mothers and are bullies themselves (vicious cycle). It is difficult to tell if this is merely learned or genetic, but I am pretty sure that it has nothing to do with playing bull rush.
What is likely having an effect on the kids in this school's situation is positive peer pressure. The administration puts the kids in a position of judging other peers. This has been used for at least 20 years and was effective in a high school I once attended. It was no utopia, but I sure didn't observe much bullying going on.